7 Great Albums That May Have Passed You By This Week
New releases from Telepathe, Blondes, Night Beds and more…
Behold: seven of the best slightly-under-the-radar albums released this week, from the eclectic record collection of The Horrors’ Tom Furse to the blissed-out reinvention of Colorado Springs singer-songwriter Night Beds.
Various Artists – ‘Tom Furse Digs’
In which Horrors keyboardist Tom Furse delves into the vast – and largely forgotten – Southern Library of Recorded Music archives to unearth rare gems of ’70s ‘exotica’. Twangy surf rock and clinking lounge jazz mingle with dusty calypsos and shimmering space-age pop, giving the general impression you’re at a sunset cocktail party thrown by David Lynch and the ghost of Joe Meek. Furse has a canny ear for a tune, though, and while much of this could be classified as ‘background music’, there’s plenty that’s odd or interesting enough to merit closer inspection. In particular, see Roger Roger’s darkly mesmerising ‘Poltergeist’ and Johnny Scott’s ‘Great Organ Beat’, which somehow manages to be both breezy and sinister at the same time.
Fly Golden Eagle – ‘Quartz Bijou’
This second album from the Nashville-based quartet originally comprised 26 tracks and was intended to sync with Alejandro Jodorowsky’s surreal filmic masterpiece of 1973, The Holy Mountain. It was cut down to 12 songs but the original inspiration lives on in the album’s mind-bending aesthetic. A no-holds-barred trip through the southern rock canon – embellished with white hot flashes of glam and psych – there are organ flurries (‘You Look Good To Me’), fingersnapping bursts of rock’n’roll (‘The Slider’) and softer moments (‘Monolith’), while singer Ben Trimble’s gospel upbringing has helped him cultivate a caramel-rich soul voice. Fly Golden Eagle may have contributed to some of the key releases of the new Nashville sound, including Alabama Shakes, but now’s their time to shine.
April Clare Welsh
Night Beds – ‘Ivywild’
Going by his sublime, folksy 2013 debut ‘Country Sleep’, you’d have every right to assume that Winston Yellen was another great addition to the cardigan-wearing canon of American singer-songwriters with broken hearts and abandoned razor blades. Yet his second album heralds a stunning reinvention. Yellen is now more of a woozy Weeknd than a beard-scratching Bon Iver, looping beats on the blissed-out ‘Me, Liquor And God’, delving into dazed R&B waters on ‘Tide Teeth’ like a long-lost Hyperdub signing and warbling profanities on the stacked soul of ‘Eve A’. At 16 tracks long, it’s a dense, textured offering that – on numbers like the lush ‘Love Streams’ – manages to shimmer with both nimble experimentation and languid pop finesse.
Blondes – ‘Persuasion’
Brooklyn duo Zach Steinman and Sam Haar return with another blistering dance record. Their last release, second album ‘Swisher’, showcased their love for mixing house with techno across 10 sprawling tracks that often ran over seven minutes. This three-track, 26-minute EP expands on that template. ‘Persuasion’ kicks things off with moody synth lines and ambient melodies; ‘Son’ turns up the BPM, adding surging keys, strings and wailing vocals, while ‘Inner Motive’ finishes things off with a pounding kick drum that sounds like it’s being played into a wind tunnel. Overall, it feels like listening to a rocket preparing for take-off before shooting out into deep space, and if this doesn’t get you dancing, you’re probably clinically dead.
Telepathe – ‘Destroyer’
Busy Gangnes and Melissa Livaudais’s 2009 debut, ‘Dance Mother’ (produced by TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek, no less) was perfectly formed leftfield electro pop. Julian Casablancas, Diplo and LCD Soundsystem’s Tyler Pope were all fans. The follow-up has taken five years to record, involving a relocation from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and a lot of reading about science fiction and Californian cults, but the appeal remains unchanged. The pulsing bass, clipped vocals and ’80s-style synth strings on ‘Drown Around Me’ are the sonic equivalent of that vintage Kodachrome effect that makes pictures taken on your phone look amazing, while the booming kick drums and handclaps on ‘Hyper Ho’ are a smart update of Miami bass. Electronic music with swag.
Ultimate Painting – ‘Green Lanes’
Jack Cooper and James Hoare formed Ultimate Painting in 2013 after their bands – Mazes and Veronica Falls – toured Europe together. Following last year’s self-titled debut, ‘Green Lanes’ is their second album in 12 months. They’ve always been prolific. Since 2011, Cooper has released three albums with Mazes, while Hoare has made two with Veronica Falls and two with The Proper Ornaments. The downside to this incessant productivity is that many of the aforementioned offerings sound largely similar – lo-fi indie rock peppered with melodic jangle. But while ‘Green Lanes’ doesn’t exactly break new ground, it does refine their warm’n’cosy formula enough to interest. ‘(I’ve Got The) Sanctioned Blues’ adds a country twang, ‘Two From The Vault’ slopes along like a lost Pavement number and even the more familiar lilts of ‘The Ocean’ and ‘Sweet Chris’ are nuanced and sweet.
Slime – ‘Company’
East London-based producer Will Archer’s debut album has been brewing for a long time. As well as working with soul singer Jessie Ware and bassy trio Vondelpark, he’s been quietly recording and sporadically releasing experimental electronic tunes as Slime for over four years. By the time he came to record ‘Company’ he had nearly 400 tracks to whittle down. The 10 he chose form a supple, sedated record that’s immaculate throughout. Moody, innovative and almost entirely instrumental, this is a unique mix of sleepy, Four Tet-influenced beats (‘My Company’), jazzy minimal hip-hop (‘Patricia’s Stories’, which features vocals from Chicago rapper Jeremiah Jae) and brass-and-strings-laden grooves (‘In One Year’). It sounds like the cathartic conclusion to years of dedication.